confetti cookies cream of shiitake mushroom soup chocolate-dipped brandy truffle figs porcini tagliatelle


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safe

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Recipe: confetti cookies

Please tell me you are okay.

We are safe, but… I don’t feel okay.

So flowed texts and messages last Monday evening with friends and family checking on us, and for us checking on our people in Boulder after the mass shooting that afternoon. This, right on the heels of another mass shooting in Atlanta that included 6 Asian women in the death count. It’s been a lot to process as a Chinese-American woman living in Boulder County. Actually, it’s a lot to process if you are capable of empathy.


behind a snow bank on the side of a building in frisco, colorado


My fully vaccinated parents are starting to visit with their fully vaccinated friends in small numbers and I think it has really lifted their spirits. I know this because random urgent cooking question texts from my parents have begun popping up on my phone. In contrast, Jeremy and I continue to isolate, mostly because of the pandemic and partly because the absence of a social life is far less stressful for us. As many ski resorts and Nordic centers begin to wind down their seasons, we are hopeful more spring storms will deliver an extended backcountry season and boost the moisture our mountains desperately need.


glorious skate ski under the watchful eye of mount crested butte

the pups love a ski tour in fresh snow

powder day on the mountain


Guess who turned 6 years old this weekend? It’s hard to believe we’ve had Neva for nearly 6 years. The first three felt like an eternity, but the last three have flown by as Neva made enormous progress with her anxieties. Proper medication, training, compassion, and even Yuki (!) have all contributed to Neva living her best good girl life. We love her so and look forward to more adventures and butt rubs and special dinners and UPS/FedEx/school bus warnings and snuggles.


such a good and patient birthday girl

her favorites: beef, bacon, cheese, apple (the parsley, not so much)

what’s a birthday pawty without your little sister?


I’m pretty sure if it feels like spring around our mountains, the rest of you are immersed in the signs of the new season (unless you are in the non-tropical Southern Hemisphere). In addition to longer and warmer days, I relish the color explosion after our extended season of muted winter tones. Tiny new leaves catch the sunlight and glow like peridots suspended in the air. Flower blooms round out the rest of the rainbow. It’s festive, much like this confetti cookie.

I set about testing the recipe in December when there was a sprinkle shortage. I should have anticipated that the home-bound and pandemic-fatigued, plunging toward the darkest nights of the year, would reach for those tiny symbols of edible joy on the store shelves to get them through the holidays. A little tweaking and a month later, I was able to finalize our preferred version of the cookie and with a better selection of sprinkles.


almond extract, butter, flour, cream cheese, sugar, sprinkles, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg


I admit, the sole reason I made these cookies was because I found the colorful sprinkles mesmerizing. I wasn’t expecting deliciousness, but they are that AND they are easy to make. Tasty, pretty, easy: three qualities that define a happy cookie, which is what we could all use about now. I doubled the amount of vanilla bean and almond extract for a more pronounced flavor, but you can dial that back if you prefer. And if the step of rubbing the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar is not within your time constraints, use vanilla extract.


rub the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar

whisk the dry ingredients together

add egg and extract(s) to the creamed butter, cream cheese, and sugar



**Jump for more butter**

summer wonders

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Recipe: crab porcini mac and cheese

July and August meld together for me as one long hot month. I tend to put my head down and muddle through with a lot of ice water, watermelon, and popsicles. But August 1 always stands out as it is Kris’ birthday. She would have turned 54 on Saturday. I arranged flowers, made somen noodle soup, and called my mother to cheer her up.


miss you, love you



Our big excitement was getting out to see comet Neowise in mid-July. Skies were touch and go in the evenings thanks to a sudden influx of moisture and clouds over Colorado. But mountain weather keeps you on your toes and we were able to see the comet with the unaided eye! I photographed it from various locations with decent dark skies. I hope many of you were able to get out to view the comet, but if not, here are a couple of my captures.

close-up of comet neowise and two distinct tails (the white dust tail and the blue ion tail)

neowise reflected in the lake as it set behind the mountains



Did I mention it was hot? It’s still hot and it’s getting hotter this week. On those days that we didn’t venture out on the trails to let the pups wade through cold mountain streams, we thought they might enjoy some baby pool time. We hadn’t pulled the pool out in 5 years (since Neva was a wee pup and peed in the pool) and were curious to see how Yuki reacted to this concept. She seemed leery of it at first, then fascinated, then took to jumping in and out of the pool with an occasional pause to quench her thirst (from the pool). It was like a giant water dish she could stand in and simultaneously take a swig from.

what the hecc?

a moment of blissful stillness



When we hiked into the high country, we sought out solitude, views, wildflowers, wildlife, and swimming holes. With so many putting their typical summer activities on hold due to the pandemic, our mountain trails have been inundated with throngs of people – plenty of whom aren’t wearing masks or respecting physical distance. Instead of dealing with that idiocy, we’ve been frequenting the lesser known local trails and tackling home tasks that have been on the to-do list forever. Our guest room is now a second office since no one should visit us while the pandemic is ongoing.

yuki side-eye and a view

mountain meadows sprinkled with color

magenta paintbrush

larkspur

lounging moose

neva dives in while yuki looks on



And it looks as if it might be porcini season. Even the mushrooms appear to be uncertain about this year. I can’t really blame them as much of the state is in drought and last year’s astounding flush is a tough act to follow.

found this early bolter all alone



Still, if there are any porcini to be found and foraged, I have lots of recipes for them. I made this crab porcini macaroni and cheese last summer with my abundant haul. This rich and decadent dish goes a long way, which means you might get to enjoy the leftovers the following day. Use whatever pasta shape you like. Macaroni works, of course, but I happen to like small shells, penne, or pipe rigate (pictured below), too. I realize fresh porcini can be difficult to find, so you can substitute whatever edible mushroom you like.

pepper, milk, cheddar, bread crumbs, salt, gruyère, pasta, butter, flour

crab legs, fresh thyme, fresh porcini



**Jump for more butter**

greening

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

Recipe: easy strawberry cake

I’d like to say that social distancing has made me more aware of my natural surroundings, but that would be a lie. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the greening of our wild spaces since February, watching for every hint of spring’s arrival. And by greening, I mean the sprouting of tiny buds and leaves and shoots. I could go either way at this point: four feet of snow or full frontal mushroom flush.


morning fog condenses on mountain pasqueflower fuzz

hello wild (feral) asparagus season



As I’ve said before, I don’t mind self-isolation because I like staying in the mountains. We considered our bi-monthly trip to the flats a chore of necessity – that is until the asparagus spears started popping up. It isn’t simply the allure of finding “free food” because you should know by now that “free isn’t free”. Part of it is the thrill of foraging, but also the forensics. I don’t just pick and go, but study the ghosts of the previous year, make note of growth patterns, and recognize where stalks have been cut, torn, or chewed.

the sweetest stalks

sautéed asparagus, snap peas, morels (from last year), on homemade tagliatelle

tempura fried asparagus in a mushroom sushi roll



On the sewing front, I spent a little time prototyping a hybrid of the Olson and pleated mask designs and finally settled on one that achieved my goals of fit, function, and ease of production (because I am not a skilled sewist). I posted a 10-minute tutorial on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B__igaYlJoz/ if you are interested. That took forever, but I am hoping the effort will help others make masks for themselves and those who need them.

a recent batch of masks



There hasn’t been a lot of sugary baking going on in our house during the pandemic. It’s mostly been dog treats and cooking savory meals. But now that sweet, red strawberries are arriving in markets, I can get on board with something like a simple cake studded with those red gems.

flour, strawberries, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt

dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half



**Jump for more butter**